Crash Commando is multiplayer shooter that breaks from the standard first-person or behind-the-back camera conventions and takes things back to 2D as a side-scroller. It's hard to call it innovative, since it's essentially a better-looking take on a relatively obscure independent PC game called Soldat, but you certainly won't find much else like it on the PlayStation 3. Crash Commando is fast, frantic fun with enough maps and modes to keep the action feeling fresh for a good amount of time.
In Crash Commando, you play as a tiny dude with a jet pack, so you can jump as well as boost around the game's levels. The jet pack has a limited amount of fuel, but quickly recharges when not in use. This means you can't just hover forever, but you won't have to constantly keep tabs on a fuel gauge, either. Prior to spawning, you choose which weapons you'd like to have. The arsenal has a number of primary weapons, including a standard assault rifle, a shotgun, a sniper rifle, a rocket launcher, and so on. You can also choose between a pistol or a knife as a secondary attack, as well as picking grenades, C4, or mines as an explosive weapon. Fire control is handled via the right analog stick. You can aim in all directions and fire with the R2 button while moving around with the left stick. The control feels nice and tight.
You'll apply these basic mechanics, along with the ability to hop in a couple of vehicles, across eight maps in a few different modes. Obviously, you've got standard deathmatch and two-team deathmatch options. There's also an objective-based mode that has you defending or capturing specific points. Up to 12 players can play in a single game, and online, some of those slots can be filled by bots if you don't have enough humans. You can also create offline games with bots, but overall, the AI guys aren't too bright, and can only be used in deathmatch or team deathmatch games. You're better off finding real people.
Online is where the game really starts to take shape. The action is fast and, despite the game's classic 2D looks, there's certainly some strategy involved. That's mostly thanks to the map design, which gives you plenty of ways to get to a specific location, forcing a defending enemy to consider all of the breach points and giving attackers a good reason to come at things from different angles, and with different weapons. The game also gives players good reasons to stay alive, as you can earn up to three bonuses--like recharging health, for example--for surviving and taking out enemies.
While Crash Commando features little characters, the graphics manage to be lush and expressive. You'll fight through various indoor areas, as well as out in jungles or ruins, and so on. Also, when the little guys get killed, they pop into a mess of bloody pixels that constantly satisfies. The gun fire sounds appropriately meaty and the music is the standard sort of military stuff that you'd expect to hear. Overall, it presents itself well.
Aside from inadequate bots and the resulting lackluster solo play, it's hard to go wrong with Crash Commando. It's a great merging of modern shooter concepts with classic movement styles and camera perspectives that I found to be both engaging and fun... even if the whole thing sort of just made me want to reinstall Soldat on my PC.